Chambers USA 2014 ranks 15 Cades Lawyers in all Five Hawai`i Practice Areas

Chambers and Partners have been publishing legal directories, which rank and rate the worlds leading lawyers, for over 20 years. They have been researching the USA legal market since 1999 and identifying the leading lawyers and law firms through interviews with thousands of lawyers and their clients. Qualities on which rankings are assessed include technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service, commercial astuteness, diligence, commitment, and other qualities most valued by the client.

Cades Schutte and 15 of our lawyers are ranked in Chambers USA 2014 in all five Hawai`i practice areas. Here is what Chambers has published about the firm and our 15 lawyers:


The Firm: Large full-service practice, best known for its excellent capabilities in insurance defense. Noteworthy expertise in environmental, construction, intellectual property and real estate litigation, as well as a developing First Amendment practice.

Sources Say: “In terms of quality of service for complex litigation they are a definite competitor – I have a lot of respect for them.”

“They provide excellent work and have good client relation skills.”

The Lawyers: “Outstanding litigator” Michael Heihre is highly commended for his expertise in commercial and real estate cases. Other areas of activity include strong construction, intellectual property and trade practices. Jeffrey Portnoy is a standout name for insurance defense and legal malpractice. His wider areas of expertise include commercial disputes, insurance and product liability. Sources single out Calvert Chipchase as a promising commercial and real estate litigator, with one saying: “I see him as one of the bright stars going forward.”


The Firm: Strong capabilities in commercial transactional law and tax planning ensure this large local firm remains a highly popular choice as corporate counsel in Hawai`i. Wide-ranging sector expertise includes banking, healthcare, TMT and education.

Sources Say: “They have a huge team – someone always has the expertise you’re looking for.”

The Lawyers: Of counsel and former corporate department chairman Gunner Schull has built up a prestigious reputation in this market through decades of high-level transactional activity. Tax department chair Roger Epstein is a “very strong” attorney with huge experience in the domain of corporate transactions and estate planning. The highly respected Vito Galati is a cornerstone of the firm’s tax practice, advising on compliance with state and federal tax laws. He has considerable experience of handling transactions involving energy and housing credits. Cary Matsushige is regarded as one of the premier lender-side finance lawyers in Honolulu. He advises on a broad range of commercial acquisitions, sales and leases. Bernice Littman represents both lenders and borrowers in real estate finance transactions. She is roundly praised by peers, who say: “She absolutely knows what she’s doing.”


The Firm: Consolidating its position as one of the key competitors in this market despite changes to the team in 2013, with expertise often sought by lenders to protect their interests. Also represents debtors in restructurings, as well as advising on Chapter 7 and 11 bankruptcies.

Sources Say: They are good one of the firms that will tend to be at the core of a case any time there’s a substantial bankruptcy.

The Lawyers: Theodore Young took over the reins of the bankruptcy and creditor’s rights practice in 2013. Sources commend his strong litigation skills, describing him as a good attorney honest and smart.


The Firm: Broad offering in labor and employment law, catering to the needs of employers. Best known for its substantial ERISA and employee benefits practice. Specializes in bespoke retirement and welfare plans as well as tax compliance.

Sources Say: “They are very good – efficient and thorough, providing excellent analysis and very quick turnaround.”

The Lawyers: Of counsel Roger Fonseca is continually singled out by sources as one of Hawai`i’s best-known and most seasoned employee benefits and pensions experts. Ellen Kawashima heads the firm’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice. Sources say she handles “cutting-edge, interesting and demanding issues, and is very good at what she does.” The “very talented” David Banks heads the employment law and labor relations group. His corporate law experience enables him to advise on employment issues pertaining to M&A transactions.


The Firm: Local powerhouse for major real estate sales and purchases, leasing, development and financing, serving a host of large institutional clients and developers. Substantial expertise advising on title, land use, zoning and environmental issues.

Sources Say: “They do a lot for us – there’s good communication and it’s a good relationship.”

“Cades have true real estate expertise and top practitioners.”

The Lawyers: Gino Gabrio maintains an outstanding reputation for his wide-ranging transactional, leasing and financing expertise. He also advises on state and federal regulatory issues. Sources say: “He’s a first-class person – very hard-working, creative and thoughtful.” Peers enjoy working with of counsel Richard Kiefer, who is based at the firm’s Maui office. He is best known for his in-depth knowledge of condominium-related matters, as well acting on a range of property transactions and development projects. Environmental law specialist Patricia McHenry represents clients in litigation, including claims under the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, insurance coverage disputes and asbestos issues, as well as counseling on regulatory compliance. Bernice Littman is a prominent name for condominium development, real estate financing, as well as sale and purchase mandates. Sources enthuse: “She’s very well respected and when she speaks, people listen – she really knows her turf.”